A sword-wielding chicken came home to roost at the Church of Scientology last week. Mario Majorski, a former Scientologist from Oregon, was killed by security guards when he entered the Church’s Celebrity Centre in Hollywood wielding a pair of samurai swords.
Majorski had been a fervent enough member of the church to file a lawsuit on its behalf: in 1993 he sued UCLA and Louis J. West, a professor of psychiatry and an expert in brainwashing and mind control. Majorski’s specific reasons for attacking the Celebrity Centre may never be known, but it’s clear that he blamed the Church for his problems—and he may have been right.
The sad thing is that the attack isn’t remotely surprising. The Church of Scientology isn’t just attractive to mentally disturbed people; it thrives on them. It makes no secret that it offers its courses and auditing sessions as a replacement for psychiatric care, and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard saw psychiatrists as his arch-nemeses. Two of the Church’s biggest recruitment programs, Narconon and Criminon, target drug addicts and criminals, discouraging them from seeking help for their problems outside the Church. Scientology needs mental illness to survive, but its techniques are controversial—and some, including Louis J. West, feel they do far more harm than good. The entire organization is a pressure cooker, and the real mystery isn’t why Majorski’s frustration with the Church turned into violence; it’s why it doesn’t happen more often.